I had a couple of buddies who are bigger comics geeks than me tell me that I really needed to check out Arrow. I hemmed and hawed for a while, as I am not a fan of many things D.C. outside of Batman.
But since I had periodic gaps while I was waiting for Game of Thrones discs from Netflix, I went and streamed the first two seasons of Arrow. As this went on over a period of a couple of months, I started to realize that I was letting GoT discs sit because I had to see the next episode of the adventures of Oliver McQueen and his pals.
Is it Game of Thrones quality? Hells naw. We’re talking the CW here, so let’s not get carried away. That’s not what Arrow is, nor what it aspires to be.
But when I compare it to another CW superhero drama, Smallville, there’s no comparison. Arrow is head-and-shoulders above the Man of Steel offering. Smallville never seemed to have a grasp of what the larger story should be over time, other than to drag out his origin story. Their “Oh shit, they’ve graduated high school … so now we have Smallville community college” moment was just one example of that ineptitude, as well as the abrupt evolution of Lana into a special being of her own, which was the point where I abandoned the show.
Arrow has a great overarching enemy – the League of Assassins – as well as a much more solid core group of actors than Smallville with Stephen Amell as the titular hero, David Ramsey as sidekick/war hero Diggle, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity and even Willa Holland as McQueen’s sister Thea, who is starting to shed her the-next-Paris-Hilton persona into a true player among Starling City’s arrow-slinging heavyweights. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it does a nice job of layering the story, revealing key points only when absolutely necessary and taking the narrative to unexpected places.
The evolution of the individual storylines works, as well. Oliver’s transition from stone-cold killer avenging his dad to hero trying to save a city when he couldn’t save his best friend was natural and necessary. John Diggle struggles with the possibilities of what his injury or death might do to the woman he loves and his new child. And while Katie Cassidy’s lack of acting skills in anything other than crying sometimes hurts the character Laurel at times, the idea that she needs to quit being that simpering addict and take matters into her own hands has been one of the more interesting arcs of Season 3, as well as offering some potential for growth beyond that.
I look forward to seeing how Arrow proceeds from here. Here’s hoping they can keep this train on the rails.